When I first started out in this profession, we were still using quills and electricity was witchcraft, but one thing people kept doing was drawing a distinction between copywriting for business (B2B) and consumer (B2C). Even back then, any copywriter worth their salt knew that this is hogwash.
There is a little evolution in the field with marketing departments realising they’re not always talking to the CEO. And that CEOs are still people. I find is astonishing that this decoupling still exists.
If you want to venture into B2B copywriting, all you need to know is that you’re still talking to people. These people have ordinary fears, interests and ways of communicating. Even Billy Big Balls from a multi-billion dollar company.
Stick to the key copywriting and tone of voice principles of:
In any brand tone of voice, it needs to have the room to make sure you’re tailoring the language you’re using to the audience and scenario. For example, you can have a fun, frivolous, jokey tone but if you’re writing final demand letters, this will fall flat.
It’s the same with business writing. Tone down the cheesy puns and dial up the knowledgeable and authoritative. This doesn’t mean using stuffy, formal language. It doesn’t mean writing essays about your product. It means show that you know what you’re talking about and you can be trusted.
Don’t forget, a CEO or anyone important with buying power in an organisation isn’t likely to open their own post or check their emails – they have a PA to do that. They will decide what to show to the boss and what to bin. If you lead with the problem/pain point, how you can solve it and some impressive stats to prove it works, you’re on a winner, winner, chicken dinner. And say it a language that doesn’t sound like SQL coding, as you can bet your arse a PA doesn’t know the ins and outs of IT delivery but will be well versed in the problems a business a solve.
The important lesson here isn’t a change in how you write, it’s an understanding who your audience is and how they work, i.e. their entry points. And this is something all good copywriters should do, regardless of whether you’re talking to John Smith from Billericay or Jeff Bezos.
Unless you want to talk to Steve Jobs, in which case you’ll need a medium, not a copywriter.